Without audience targeting are Google Ads Dead? Think again…
Early this month Google announced new restrictions for targeting specific audiences. The restrictions apply to content related to housing, employment, credit, and those who are disproportionately affected by societal biases. The news of these restrictions created quite a stir among industry brokers and lenders who heavily rely upon targeted Google ad campaigns. All which may have you asking if these changes will kill future reverse mortgage advertising on the world’s most popular search engine. In just a moment we’ll hear from our online SEO expert Josh Johnson to find out.
Google’s restrictions are not necessarily novel nor unexpected. It was just over two years ago Facebook faced scrutiny from federal regulators for allowing those offering credit or housing finance to restrict ad audiences by race or religion among other questionable metrics that would violate HUD’s fair housing rules. An investigation by ProPublica broke this news in October 2016. It was nearly two years later in August 2018 that HUD filed a formal complaint against the social media giant for discriminatory advertising practices. Seven months after HUD’s complaint Facebook announced sweeping changes. Both Facebook and later Google, took a blunt approach much to the chagrin of lenders and service providers.
What ad filters are going away? In its official release Google revealed, “credit products or services can no longer be targeted to audiences based on gender, age, parental status, marital status, or ZIP code.”
Is this the end of Google ads for reverse mortgages? To answer that question I reached out to Josh Johnson who heads up Reverse Focus’ Online Dominance SEO program and Google marketing. Here’s his explanation.
Here’s what makes Google unique from other platforms and why reverse mortgage Google ads will continue to reach the intended audience.
To summarize, older homeowners are intentionally seeking out reverse mortgage information on Google which means, yes-your ads will be seen by your target audience, even though you can no longer target specific age groups.
FHA’s 2020 Report Shows Marked HECM Improvement
During NRMLA’s Virtual Annual meeting last week. Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Brian Montgomery’s comments last Tuesday reinforce a common theme heard since 2009. Viability. Referencing the continued strong demographic demand for HECMs Montgomery said, ‘so long as the program is built to be viable. He added, “In the end, we must protect seniors who depend on the HECM while ensuring our program’s financial strength can endure market cycles without taxpayers picking up the bill.”
In the effort to avoid the HECM requiring further subsidies to remain economically viable HUD & FHA have an established history of pulling to levers to reduce the program’s risk of future losses or insurance claims: reduced principal limit factors, and restructuring FHA mortgage insurance premiums. Other measures included the elimination of HECM products, financial underwriting requirements, and reducing the interest rate floor. Weeks following the unwelcome October 2017 HECM PLF cuts were enacted key one industry leader pointed to unaddressed problems in the ‘back-end’ of the program- specifically a backlog of unprocessed HECM loan assignments- this months prior to the appointment of FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery. In May 2019 Montgomery announced the good news that the backlog of HECM claim assignments was clear and expressed cautious optimism of the program’s future financial viability.
While industry watchers were grateful that the logjam of assignments had been cleared, many expressed continued concerns of continued servicing issues from HUD’s appointed servicer citing abandoned properties, unauthorized occupancy of homes by relatives, and the deterioration of properties securing the loans that languish as REOs or real-estate owned properties.
However, in the short term, there’s good news.
Strong home appreciation throughout the fiscal year 2020 and low interest rates. Higher home values increase the equity buffer between a HECM’s loan balance and the asset or home value and low interest rates help slow that gap being closed by accrued interest and negative amortization. Knowing these economic conditions help to significantly improve the HECM’s Net Present value it’s logical to conclude we are facing significant risks- especially should the housing market erode in the coming year. In his presentation last week Montgomery cautioned, “While I believe there are positive effects of both our policies and a robust housing market, the coronavirus and loss of employment have produced serious headwinds. We know that pro-cyclical forces can provide a false sense of security.” He also referenced stress tests. Stress testing models how a bank, corporation, or the FHA insurance fund would potentially perform under several potential economic events. This would of course necessitate modeling some negative ‘what-if’ scenarios which include rising interest rates, falling home values, One number that will be an asset when stress-testing the HECM portion of in-force insurance in the MMIF is the HPA or Home Price Appreciation rates. The average quarterly HPA from 2011-2019 was 1% or an adjusted average of a four-percent annual home appreciation rate. 2020 home values are certain to push that number significantly higher.
The HECM has numerous challenges when attempting to determine economic viability. It’s valuation and future claim payouts are extremely sensitive to home appreciation/deflation and interest rates. For a better idea of the HECM program’s current economic viability here’s short summary of HUD’s Annual Report to Congress released just this last Friday.
FHA’s Report to Congress on the Financial Status of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund [READ]